About Us

Serving the Sporting Goods Industry for Nearly a Century

Our History

Advocating for sporting goods retailers and dealers was the foundation of the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). In 1927, a fight over an unfair tax on sporting goods in the state of South Carolina led to the formation of the Sporting Goods Dealer’s Association of South Carolina.

Two years later, regional sporting goods associations started and the combination of two of them in 1929 was the formation of NSGA. All of the various regional associations merged in 1936 and the organization’s name was officially changed to the National Sporting Goods Association.

Next — 1929

Dealers from the Midwest and South form the Sporting Goods Distributors Association on March 25 at an assembly in St. Louis. The synthesis of the two regional associations into a national association occurred May 26 in Cleveland, Ohio as the two groups met and officially merged under the Sporting Goods Distributors Association (SGDA) name.

Next — 1930

The first SGDA Convention is held January 20-21 at the LaSalle Hotel in Chicago. It is the first time the organization met since its formation and more than 120 members attended the convention. Elections for officers and directors were held and the name was changed to the National Sporting Goods Distributors Association (NSGDA).

Next — 1931

More than 600 members attend the NSGDA convention in Chicago. Legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne gives the luncheon address and 90 exhibits are displayed.

Next — 1936

The name of the organization is changed during the annual convention to the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). The belief was the name was more all-inclusive of the organization’s membership and more generally descriptive of the association.

Next — 1948

The first issue of NSGA’s Selling Sporting Goods is published. This four-page monthly bulletin is designed to keep members informed of association activities, services and programs. It expands into a monthly magazine and evolves through the years into today’s NSGA NOW.

Next — 1949

NSGA permanently relocates its headquarters to Chicago and would remain at various locations in the city and the suburbs of Mount Prospect and Downers Grove. NSGA headquarters had also been in Kansas City, Missouri, Cleveland, Ohio, Shreveport, Louisiana and St. Louis, Missouri before settling in the Chicago area.

Next — 1955

The NSGA Board of Directors establishes the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame to honor the numerous sporting goods industry pioneers. More than 180 men and women have been inducted into the Hall of Fame through 2022.

Next — 1956

The first class of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame honors Frank Bradsby (Hillerich & Bradsby Co., Inc.), John M. Browning (Browning Arms Co.), Ole Evinrude (Evinrude Motors), James Heddon (James Heddon’s Sons) and Albert G. Spalding (A.G. Spalding & Bros., Inc.).

Next — 1965

The first NSGA Management Conference is held in Bermuda. The Management Conference would eventually grow to become the premier education and networking event in the sporting goods industry.

Next — 1969

NSGA announces a tour to the International Sports Equipment Show in Munich, Germany. The trip enabled NSGA supplier members to exhibit American-made products and gave member retailers the chance to inspect new products from manufacturers in 22 countries.

Next — 1972

Sports celebrities are a big attraction at the NSGA convention in Chicago with Joe Namath (football), Hank Aaron and Joe Torre (baseball), Billie Jean King and Stan Smith (tennis) and Lee Trevino and Tom Weiskopf (golf) representing sporting goods manufacturers.

Next — 1985

The first Sports Participation report is released by NSGA. The report continues to provide vital industry information about sports participation trends in traditional and emerging sports and activities.

Next — 1987

The need for representation on the ski retail side of the sporting goods industry leads to the formation of the National Ski Retailers Association (NSRA).

Next — 1996

NSRA becomes the National Ski & Snowboard Retailers Association (NSSRA) to reflect the boom of snowboarding and the changes in the snowsports industry.

Next — 1999

The Team Dealer Summit is added to the NSGA Management Conference to provide specific educational programming for team dealers. Mueller Sports Medicine has sponsored the Team Dealer Summit since its inception.

Next — 2003

Gertrude Boyle of Columbia Sportswear Co., is the first female inducted into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. She is followed by Mary Cabela (Cabela’s) in 2005, Elizabeth Goeke and Ellen K. Wessel (Moving Comfort) in 2009, Julie Nimmons (Schutt Sports) in 2010, Barbara Longstreth (Longstreth Sporting Goods) in 2018 and Cathy Pryor (Hibbett Sports) in 2024.

Next — 2010

NSGA creates the Hockey Dealers Association (HDA) division to support hockey retailers and the hockey industry.

Next — 2013

NSGA, HDA and the Sports Distributors of Canada (SDC) form a buying collaboration for U.S. hockey retailers. The NSGA/HDA/SDC collaboration gives U.S. hockey retailers the opportunity to band together for better purchasing power.

Next — 2014

NSGA holds its 50th annual Management Conference in Palm Springs, California. Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane is the keynote speaker of the event.

Next — 2017

NSGA creates Speed Networking for the annual Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit. Speed Networking gives retailers and dealers the opportunity to have short, structured meetings with manufacturers in one afternoon and becomes one of the biggest hits of the event.

Next — 2019

Cathy Pryor of Hibbett’s is elected as the first female chair of the NSGA Board of Directors. Pryor was also the seventh woman inducted into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame in 2024.

Next — 2023

NSGA renames annual event to NSGA Leadership Conference.